2022 Best Online Speech Pathology Degrees

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated 6/14/2022

An online bachelor’s in speech pathology prepares students for various careers in the speech and language pathology field. Speech pathology is defined as the treatment of speech disorders, communicative disorders, and language problems in children and adults. Graduates with an online bachelor’s in speech-language pathology have a thorough understanding of the behavioral, social, and physiological factors affecting human communication. 

The job outlook for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is 29% through 2030, which is significantly faster than the US average across all occupations. Though speech-language pathologists typically need a master's degree, graduates with an online bachelor’s degree can pursue careers as clinical liaisons, teachers, audiologist assistants, speech pathology assistants, and rehabilitation aides. 

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List Of Accredited Online Schools

School Online Enrollment Salary Score Median Starting Salary
Arizona State University 44,253 44,253 56 56 $24,961 $24,961
Maryville University 6,123 NA NA
Nova Southeastern University 5,824 NA NA
Columbia College - SC 381 NA NA
College of Our Lady of the Elms 156 88 $30,497

College of Our Lady of the Elms

  • Salary Score: 88
  • Median Starting Salary: $30,497
  • Locations: Chicopee (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

At the College of Our Lady of the Elms (Elms College) — a small, private nonprofit with a Roman Catholic foundation — students can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SPLA). The 120-credit-hour program lasts 20 months, and students have the ability to transfer up to 78 credit hours. Example courses from the program include Introduction to Communication Sciences and Disorders, Phonetics and Phonology, Normal Language Development, and Bases of Intervention. In addition, students are required to complete a clinical practicum at an approved site before enrolling in the program.

Elms College facilitates its online courses through the e-learning platform, Moodle. Online students must complete coursework in a synchronous format to meet weekly assignment and discussion deadlines.

Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 56
  • Median Starting Salary: $24,961
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University (ASU) is a large, public university offering an online Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Science requiring 117-120 credit hours. The program gives students an overview of human communication, language, and speech development. Some core courses often include Introduction to Phonetics, Literacy and Critical Inquiry, Language Science, and Hearing Science. ASU graduates may pursue careers as audiology assistants, speech-language pathology assistants, and research assistants.

At ASU, online students complete coursework asynchronously through the learning management system, Canvas. In addition, online students have access to disability support, counseling, time management coaching, success coaching, tech help, and military support services.

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Overview of Online Speech Pathology Degrees

Online speech pathology programs are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. You can also get a certificate in SLP. However, those interested in becoming licensed speech-language pathologists will need a master's degree. Master's programs typically include 36 credits of coursework and take around two years of full-time study to complete. A doctoral degree in speech pathology can prepare students for advanced clinical roles, research positions, or a teaching career. An online bachelor's in SLP is designed to provide a solid educational foundation to pursue graduate studies in the field or apply for entry-level SLP positions. In some cases, you can begin working as a SLPA in a clinic or similar healthcare setting with simply an associate degree. An online SLP certificate, which typically requires 24 credits and may also include clinical training hours, can also prepare you to work under the supervision of a licensed speech-language pathologist.


What Degree Do You Need to Be a Speech Pathologist?

A master's is the minimum degree requirement to become a speech-language pathologist. These professionals must also be certified or licensed depending on their state's requirements, which usually involves completing a specified number of clinical hours and passing an exam. In California, for example, applicants need at least a master's degree in SLP from an accredited institution, have completed 300 supervised clinical practicum hours, have 36 additional weeks of full-time professional experience, and pass a state board exam.

A master's is the minimum degree requirement to become a speech-language pathologist.

A master's in SLP could lead to roles in private practice, healthcare facilities, and educational environments. Graduates with this degree also develop new treatments, research communication processes, and manage outpatient clinics. Individuals with a master's degree in speech pathology might also pursue careers as audiologists.

What Bachelor's Degree is Best for Speech Pathology?

A bachelor's in speech pathology is ideal if your goal is to pursue graduate studies in the field. However, degrees in areas such as psychology, linguistics, and language development are also relevant to SLP.

If you choose to major in speech pathology, you can either get an online bachelor of arts or an online bachelor of science. Though both SLP programs teach students about communication sciences disorders and give them experience in clinical practice, there are different electives students can take in each. For a BA, students may take liberal arts electives such as philosophy, creative writing, and theater. A BS program may include more electives in mathematics and science. Some core online courses include:

  • Anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing
  • Speech and hearing science
  • Disorders of swallowing

Despite the overlap in core coursework, a BS has a slight advantage over a BA if your goal is to pursue graduate studies in speech language pathology. This is because some master's programs expect students to have previous coursework in the physical or health sciences. However, either degree in this field has the advantage over a non SLP-related bachelor's degree. While many graduate programs don't expect previous credit hours in speech pathology, some may require students to complete field-specific hours between being accepted into the program and beginning their coursework.


What to Expect From an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Pathology

An online bachelor's degree in SLP covers topics in liberal arts and sciences, as well as those related to speech, language, and hearing. Programs typically require 120 course hours, about 30 of which typically focus on language development, speech and language disorders, anatomy, physiology, and diagnostic procedures. Most programs also require supervised clinical placements where students observe professional speech pathologists conduct diagnostic and treatment sessions. For online students, these can usually be arranged at facilities nearby. Full-time students can complete an online speech therapy degree in four years, usually at their own pace within the program.

Most programs also require supervised clinical placements where students observe professional speech pathologists conduct diagnostic and treatment sessions.

Program Requirements

An online speech-language pathology program has certain prerequisites for admission. Applicants will need a high school diploma or GED and in many cases ACT or SAT test scores. Some programs may require students to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA through their first two years of general education before being admitted to speech therapy study at the baccalaureate level. Additionally, because degrees in speech therapy are pre-professional and prepare students for further study, students may need to maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate.


What Jobs Can You Get With a Bachelor's in Speech Pathology?

A bachelor's in speech pathology qualifies you for entry-level roles and some non-SLP careers. Graduates with an online bachelor's degree in speech therapy can work as SLPAs, rehabilitation support staff, or caregivers. They can find employment in a variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes. Below are some jobs you can get with an undergraduate speech pathology degree.

Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
Median Annual Salary: $39,530
These professionals help licensed speech-language pathologists care for patients with communication disorders. Their work is often varied, and may include helping provide therapy services, communicating with clients, and performing administrative tasks. SLPAs typically need some previous field or clinical experience. They earn a median annual salary of $39,530.
Interpreter
Median Annual Salary: $52,330
Given their familiarity with communication challenges, a career as an interpreter can be a suitable career option for those with a bachelor's in speech language pathology. Graduates will need native or close to native fluency in at least two languages. Interpreters earn a median salary of $52,330 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their services can benefit communities, professional organizations, government bodies, and even tourism companies.
ESL Teacher
Median Annual Salary: $55,350
ESL teachers help adults gain fluency in English as a second language. They design and teach courses at both the basic and secondary levels to help individuals learn how to read, write, and speak English. ESL teachers earn a median annual salary of $55,350 per year. A teaching certificate or a state-approved teacher prep course may also be required.

Accredited Online Speech Pathology Degrees

Before enrolling in an online speech therapy degree program, students should verify that the school is accredited. Accreditation is a process in which a third party periodically evaluates whether the quality of education at an institution meets national standards. It's not uncommon for schools to have multiple accreditations. For instance, colleges can be accredited as a whole by national and regional bodies. Specific programs can also receive accreditation from relevant organizations.

There are many benefits to enrolling in an SLP bachelor's at an accredited institution. In addition to receiving a quality education, students who attend accredited schools are eligible for federal financial aid in the form of grants and loans. Furthermore, those planning to change schools or programs will find it easier to transfer credits earned at an accredited school.

Students pursuing careers as speech pathologists will need to earn their master's degree from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation to be eligible for certification.

While programmatic accreditation is not available for undergraduate SLP programs, students pursuing careers as speech pathologists will need to earn their master's degree from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation to be eligible for certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

The best places to find accredited institutions or degree programs are the Council of Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Higher Education.


Speech Pathology Certifications to Advance Your Career

While a graduate degree and state licensure are required to work as a speech pathologist, specialized certifications can benefit professionals in many ways. Certification tells potential employers and clients that a practitioner has the professional training and experience to provide quality care. Some certifications also require practitioners to continue their education, ensuring they are up to date on best practices and scientific research in their field. Below are two certifications you can get with an online bachelor's in speech pathology.

  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association C-SLPA certification: You can become a certified SLPA after getting an online bachelor's, associate degree, or certificate in a related speech therapy area from an accredited institution. Individuals may also apply if they have a minimum of a 2-year degree with relevant coursework in communication disorders or language development. They must pay a one-time fee, submit their application materials, and pass the Assistants Certification Exam.
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association C-AA certification: Those who don't meet the C-SLPA criteria can still become certified audiology assistants. Applicants must have either a bachelor's degree, high school diploma, GED, or a military job series certificate in audiology. Practical hour requirements for certification vary based on the applicant's educational qualifications.

Is a Bachelor's in Speech Pathology Worth It?

Most prospective college students wonder whether it's worth investing time and money into higher education. While you may be interested in speech-language pathology as a field, it's important to consider a variety of factors before enrolling in an online bachelor's program. You should carefully evaluate your personal commitments, financial circumstances, and career goals, as well as the prospect of pursuing an online degree.

Online programs typically allow students to learn at their own pace, so a distance learning format may be a suitable alternative to an in-person degree if you work or have family commitments. However, for students who value the opportunity to network or engage regularly with their peers, the online format may prove alienating.

You may also want to consider this list of additional pros and cons before deciding to enroll in an online bachelor's in speech pathology.

Advantages:

  • If you like working collaboratively to provide care, this degree could be a good fit for you. Over 96% of SPLAs report that their jobs allow them to work in groups or with a team.
  • Job prospects for SLPAs are expected to grow by 10-15%, which is faster than average compared to other professions, through 2030. This means that there is a good chance you'll find employment in this field after graduating.
  • A bachelor's in SLP makes it easier to transition to a graduate program if you want to become a licensed speech-language pathologist.

Drawbacks:

  • A bachelor's degree in SLP is not sufficient if you hope to become a practicing speech-language pathologist. If your goal is to diagnose and treat communication disorders, you will need a master's degree, which will require an additional investment of time and money.
  • Learning online may limit opportunities to network with faculty and potential employers.
  • With an average annual salary of $39,530, SPLAs make less than the U.S. average of $41,950.

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